March 30, 2008

Why I keep this blog

So I don't miss wonderful things like this:

Thanks so much to reader fanatica de peliculas for the heads-up about this beyond-delicious video. After I finished squeeing I caught my breath and prepared this quick-and-dirty translation of the voice-over. Usual caveats - it's not entirely literal, and I'm just a learner so there are probably some errors. But you get the gist.

Shabana Azmi and Javed Akhtar's entire family was together with them, drenched in Holi fun. Just like every year, this year's Holi celebration at their house was a great time. Several of their friends from the Bollywood world were with them sharing the Holi joy. But Shabana Azmi got into the Holi spirit even more than everyone else.

Don't feel bad - it's Holi ! Shabana Azmi and her family were saying this to everyone. Just like every year, this year Shabana Azmi and Javed Akhtar went all out to celebrate Holi. Many of their friends came and completely enjoyed the festival as well. The Holi colors covered Shabana Azmi beautifully. Everyone who came to this party had a very special Holi. Shabana Azmi and Javed Akhtar celebrated with complete abandon. And watching them, their friends could not help but join in. It made for a memorable Holi indeed.

March 28, 2008

More Holi

Greta graciously provided a link to pictures from this year's Holi party at Shabana Azmi and Javed Akhtar's place, and she was right - I love 'em. For some reason the magnificent pair once again neglected to invite me to their famous bash, but at least I have the beautiful pictures, and there's always next year.

Been busy with various projects but I will have a news roundup post for you in the next day or two, as well as the results from the very exciting March poll, and a really fun video that a reader alerted me to which I'll highlight as soon as I get a chance to translate it. Thanks for reading everyone! I'm always delighted to hear from you, so please keep leaving comments!

March 24, 2008

Holi he!

Hope all of you who celebrate had a joyous and colorful Holi. It looks like Shabana Azmi and Javed Akhtar their own approximately annual Holi bash this year. I haven't seen any pictures of it yet, so here's one from last year.

I will update if I see some new snaps from this year's party.

March 14, 2008

Oooh, pretty!

For your Friday enjoyment: some more unusual pictures from the vault, this time a black-and-white selection ...

...looking young and elfen

... just looking gorgeous

... with abba.

There are many, many, many more where those came from!

March 13, 2008

A helping hand for Smita Patil's son

Subhash K. Jha reports in the Times of India that Shabana Azmi is helping Smita Patil's son as prepares for his own career as an actor. Prateik, now 22, is heading abroad to study acting and Shabana ji has offered herself as a kind of mentor to him.

It's a nice story, given the supposed rivalry between Shabana ji and Smita Patil, which as I understand was not entirely media-manufactured. They may have liked one another, they may not have - I don't know - but there's no doubt that they competed for roles and for recognition, and for the attention of their shared mentor Shyam Benegal. So it's sweet to see Shabana ji looking out for Prateik, who never knew his mother - she died from complications at his birth.

The article also reports that a Gulzar movie that Shabana ji made over 20 years ago - Libaas - is now expected to be released. I don't know why it wasn't released before.

Finally, in unrelated news, the items I mentioned in this post have arrived from Mumbai! The postcard is happily displayed on the bulletin board in my office and there is some great stuff in those magazines which I will share here soon, so look for that.

March 12, 2008

Shabana Azmi on board for political satire

This sounds really cool. IndiaFM is reporting that Shabana Azmi is signed on to Anubhav Sinha's next production, a political satire. This could really be gold - combining Shabana ji's activist side her talent for comedy, a talent that is seemingly being recognized and sought after more and more.

I hope she has a big juicy role, and I can't wait to see the film.

March 11, 2008

March poll: Should they or shouldn't they?

I've had chats with several folks about different kinds of films they'd like to see, and one that often comes up is a mature, older-woman younger-man romance. I would love to see Shabana Azmi in a film like this - could be a comedy like Cheeni kum in reverse, or even something more serious.

The trouble is that when my acquaintances and I are fantasizing about this kind of film, the name that always comes up to play the lead man is Shah Rukh Khan.

And I just can't stand the idea.

It's not just that Shah Rukh Khan doesn't appeal to me - that's only part of it. There's an aesthetic mismatch that I'm not sure even the most talented director could bridge. Shah Rukh Khan is good at what he does, but what he does is broad, playing to the back of the house. Shabana ji's realist approach would never work with this, and so she too would be forced to pull out the cartoon acting. She'd have to give the kind of performance she gave in Umrao Jaan. The result would be two hours of competitive scenery-chewing; bordering on intolerable even in a comedy.

I'm not offering a suggestion for a different lead at this point - that could be a later poll, dependent upon the results of this one. Today I am just asking the yes-or-no question: Would you like to see Shabana ji opposite Shah Rukh Khan in a story with some kind of romantic tension? (The romance need not be the only plot, but it must be a considerable force in the story - I'm not intending here to poll about the notion of a film in which they play siblings, or colleagues without any sexual tension.) What do you think of my analysis above - have I got it all wrong? Or does this thought make you cringe just as much as it does me?

So should they or shouldn't they? Vote over on the right.

Thanks as always to Beth for the silly (and frightening) graphic.

March 10, 2008

Tabu interview

Most of you SLP readers probably know that the gorgeous and gifted Tabu is Shabana Azmi's niece - through, I believe, Shaukat Kaifi's side, the Hyderabadi side of Shabana ji's family. And so when I was tickled today by this interview with Tabu I thought I would share it with all of you.

Tabu is a private person and doesn't much enjoy talking to the press or going on junkets to promote her films. She seems to intersperse high profile projects with regional projects that keep her closer to her Hyderabad home. In fact the only thing that really got her talking was complaining about the media at large:

Q: Recently, there were reports of you doing Deepak Tijori's film in English, Zoya Akhtar's untitled project opposite Farhan Akhtar and Shoojit Sircar's Shoebite starring Amitabh Bachchan. But you have denied that you are working on these films.

A: (Sighs) The directors and I were only in the process of talking about whether or not to do the films. I was never doing them. I hope to find better ways to deal with such reports. So far, the only way I've dealt with them is detaching myself from them so that they don't occupy my mindspace.To be honest, I'm unable to cope with the media's intrusion in our lives. I can't handle "who wore what, who ate what, who said what"kind of reportage. I tell myself to ignore it. Even denying such news would give it undeserved importance. I have just two requests. I wish the directors refrain from announcing that I am doing their film until I sign the contract and that the media publishes better pictures of me.
I enjoyed this comment and hopes she gets her wish:
Q: What is that one role that you really want to do?

A: A waitress in an American diner kind of setting. I like those characters.

March 5, 2008

February poll results: No surprises here

It should come as a surprise to no one that Naseeruddin Shah came out on top in February's romance themed poll, which asked who is Shabana Azmi's best leading man. After all, in last October's poll Masoom came away as the most popular of Shabana ji's movies among SLP's readers, and what could be sweeter than the scene in Sparsh in which he describes what makes her beautiful until she blushingly cries "Stop!" Shabana and Naseer match so well, with their understated, realist style and their unconventional good looks - the relationships they portray are palpable and real, more like families you actually know than like characters in movies.

It's fascinating to me that in real life they don't particularly like each other.

Naseeruddin ran away with the poll, collecting 17 of the poll's 32 votes, a real majority and almost three times as many as his nearest competition. The next closest "leading man" was Nandita Das with six votes for her spicy pairing with Shabana ji in Deepa Mehta's Fire. I am very partial to this pairing (though my vote went to Naseer), and find it tender, steamy, and believable. I'd say that I'd love to see it again, but I'm not going to hold my breath for that to happen. ;-)

After Nandita Das, Vinod Khanna and Boman Irani garnered some support, with four and three votes respectively. I think I mentioned that after seeing Shaque the Shabana-Vinod pairing rose considerably in my mind. And I've already stated my considerably more realistic wish to see another movie about Shabana ji and Boman ji as a couple.

Finally, Shashi Kapoor and Om Puri picked up a vote each for their diverse resumes of both art-house and mainstream pairings with Shabana ji. And poor Kulbhushan Kharbanda could not muster any votes at all - that's what he gets, I suppose, for philandering and neglecting our Shabana in such films as Arth and Fire. He should have treated her better!

Stay tuned for the March poll, in which we ask: Should they or shouldn't they?

March 4, 2008

Mahesh Bhatt's Bhutto film hits a snag

According to this article in India's Financial Express, Benazir Bhutto's widower Asif Ali Zardari has refused approval to Mahesh Bhatt's proposed biopic about Bhutto, which (according to various stories) would have starred Shabana Azmi. Although Bhatt's film would have a been a co-production with a Pakistani production company, the article suggests that strong sentiments against having Bhutto's story told by an Indian filmmaker are at work here.

I don't think permission from the family is legally required to make a movie about a public figure such as Bhutto, but it likely is required for an adaptation of Bhutto's memoir, and at any rate would be useful for both practical and political reasons. So while this development doesn't spell the project's certain doom, it's definitely not a good sign.

The article also notes that Robert Redford has the right to produce a film about Benazir Bhutto, a fact which I'd also seen mentioned elsewhere; there is no reason that Shabana Azmi could not play Ms. Bhutto in a Hollywood production, and if that's the only Bhutto film that gets made I have to admit I would love to see Shabana ji get the part. I could see her winning an Academy Award for a role like that, just as I could see her picking up another National Award for an Indian-produced Bhutto biopic.

March 3, 2008

Is it March already?

That's just crazy.

March means I owe you a roundup of the February poll (and its unsurprising result) as well as a new poll for the new month. The March poll may be rather ... well, curmudgeonly is the only word I can think of right now.

In the mean time, I will just distract you with some pretty things from my new stash. Ooooh, shiny!

I could get lost in that one if I'm not careful.